Mike Cook knew his Warwick American club would be a strong offensive team, but he was still underestimating his group heading into Monday’s game with Warwick National.
He won’t underestimate them anymore.
American banged out 12 hits in just five innings en route to a 10-0 mercy-rule victory over National in the opening game of the 28th annual Red Andrews tournament.
Playing with just nine players, American got hits from seven of them and the team had four in its seven-run seventh inning, which turned a 0-0 game into a one-sided affair.
“I didn’t think we’d hit like that, but I’m glad we did,” Cook, American’s manager, said. “I hope it continues.”
Adding to American’s convincing victory was the performance of 11-year-old Tyler Parks on the mound. Parks pitched the entire five innings, and didn’t allow a single hit. He did walk seven batters, but his defense was always there to support him in the few jams he got in to.
“He’s real good,” Cook said. “He pays attention, keeps his head in the game.”
For National, the scoreboard was disappointing, but it only had to look at the second inning to see where things went wrong. It did give up some hits, but it also committed four errors in the frame. Against a team like American, that wasn’t going to cut it.
“The guys really tried hard, but that one inning, it’s infectious,” National manager Chris Tanguay said. “Once you get one error, then they all start. We’ve had that happen before, where it’s one inning that just kills us.”
The inning started out well enough. Eric Roderick singled for American, but National starter Andrew Merryfield got the first out on a fly out. But the next two batters, Darius Frey and Jacob Paul, both reached on errors, loading the bases with one out.
Then the floodgates opened. Jake Randall singled in a run, and two batters later Parks knocked in two more runs. Consecutive errors on balls hit by Nathan Miller and Kyle Reiff made it 5-0, and Roderick picked up his second hit of the inning with a two-run single for the 7-0 lead.
“I was pretty happy,” Cook said. “Everybody contributed. Everybody got hits, made plays. It wasn’t just the pitcher. They were all in the game. I’m very happy for them.”
With Parks on the hill, a seven-run deficit was insurmountable. He struck out the last batter of the second, then struck out two more in a 1-2-3 third. He also struck out two in the fourth while working around a one-out walk.
“He’s been good all the time I’ve seen him,” Tanguay said of Parks. “He’s been very good and dominating. Actually tonight was the best we’ve done on him.”
American added to its lead in the third, as Randall doubled to knock in Jacob Paul, but Randall was gunned down at third to keep it an eight-run game.
Still, it didn’t make much of a difference. National threatened in the fifth, putting runners at second and third with two outs, but a mental error cost it a chance. Nick Follett walked, and Daniel Tanguay – the runner on third – broke for home, thinking the bases had been loaded. They weren’t, however, and he was tagged out at the plate for the third out of the inning.
“I’m still proud of the guys, no matter what they do,” Chris Tanguay said.
In the bottom of the fourth, American added a run on an Emidio De Souza Rosa single, and in the fifth it ended the game when Roderick singled home Parks with the 10th run.
“They’re a good group of kids,” Cook said. “They worked hard and hopefully they go far in this tournament.”
American will look to keep it going today, when it takes on Continental – which beat Chariho 15-5 on Monday – in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Both teams will also play on Saturday, with the championship game set for 7 p.m.
National played an extra game Tuesday as a substitute team and was scheduled to take on Chariho on Wednesday with the results unavailable at press time. It will play on Saturday as well, regardless of Wednesday’s outcome.
“I’m not worried about my guys,” Tanguay said. “My guys will rebound. We won a scrimmage game 9-8 over the weekend, we’ll get it rolling. We will.”